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12 March 2018

Slovakia: labour code changes pass parliament - another social package announced

Following a vote in parliament on several amendments to the Labour Code a series of employee bonuses and allowances will be improved as of May 2018. The employers criticised the plans and came up with an alternative, whilst the unions backed up the proposals. After the vote on the amendments of the Labour Code, the governing coalition announced other parts of what is labelled ‘the second social package’ during this legislative period. These new initiatives should enter into force in 2019.

The so-called ‘social package’ of the ruling cabinet is build up by measures from each participating political party. The Slovak parliament agreed on February 13 on a revision to the Labour Code that increases existing work bonuses for night shifts and/or risky work and introduces new ones. The revision also leads to 13th and 14th salaries - benefits that the employees receive before the summer and Christmas holidays. Originally, it was planned to start with these allowances at once, but the decision was taken to work with two stages, 1 May 2018 and 1 May 2019. Trade union KOZ welcomed most amendments, but criticised the fact that the 13th and 14th payments are on a voluntary basis. The union also objected to the fact that the 13th and 14th salaries will not be calculated as part of an employee’s average salary. The employers’ organisations had criticised the plans at a special tripartite meeting that was convened in December 2017 and had stated that the proposed higher payments for night and weekend work would have negative consequences particularly in economically weaker regions and industries that depend on night and weekend work, such as bakeries and retailers. The National Association of Employers (RÚZ) came up with its own social package increasing the net income of workers, mainly based on fiscal measures.

After the parliament passed the higher surcharges for night, weekend and holiday work and the voluntary 13th and 14th pay, the governing coalition announced a second social package in the months to come. The plan is that this second social package will come into force on 1 January 2019. This package should contain measures for entrepreneurs, sole proprietors, as well as small and medium businesses. The government labelled it as ‘large package of money that will go to people in 2019’ while preserving public finance consolidation.

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